LOS ANGELES (KTLA) – Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti opened his daily briefing Tuesday recognizing what may have been the first teenage COVID-19 death in L.A. County and went on to announce actions against nonessential businesses that don’t close and a new portal for recruiting medics.
He reminded young people that the virus can hit them too, urging them to stay at home and practice social distancing.
“Your behavior can save a life and take a life,” Garcetti said. “And that life could be yours.”
The mayor addressed President Trump’s remarks from earlier Tuesday about having the nation “opened up and just raring to go by Easter.” Garcetti said he didn’t think L.A. would be back to normal “in that short time.”
“We won’t extend it one day longer than we need to,” Garcetti said, but emphasized that the “safer at home” measure had to be followed through.
The mayor said L.A. is six to 12 days behind New York in being hit with a wave of positive cases.
“The peak is not here yet,” he said. “It will be bad.”
Garcetti emphasized the need for medical workers who can test, treat, heal and tend to coronavirus patients. He announced that together with L.A. County, the city has opened up a portal for medical personnel recruitment, with both paid and pro-bono positions.
“We need to be prepared for some of the darkness that is ahead,” the mayor said. “Each one of us can be a light. We can light a match of hope. We can navigate that tunnel with each other and not alone. And more importantly, what we do can ensure that more people exit that tunnel together… and that our city will rise again.”
The mayor went on to announce the “business ambassadors program” — an effort to get nonessential businesses to close.
“This behavior is irresponsible and selfish,” he said of those that remain open.
He said the Department of Water and Power will shut off services for the businesses that don’t comply with the “safer at home” ordinance.
Neighborhood prosecutors will implement safety measures and will contact the businesses before issuing further action, according to Garcetti.
“The easiest way to avoid a visit is to follow the rules,” he said.
On Sunday, Garcetti had announced the city’s online portal where high-risk residents could sign up to get tested for COVID-19. As of Tuesday, 2,800 tests were completed, according to the mayor, and in the coming three days, that capacity would double to 5,500 tests.
“Every test is crucial and I wish we could be doing so many more,” Garcetti said.
Similar to those of the past week, the press conference was held remotely with media dialing in by phone to heed social distancing rules.
The briefing came after Garcetti announced an emergency order Monday, prohibiting residential rental units from being removed from the rental market.
The mayor had also announced that restaurants and bars could deliver alcoholic beverages, as a means of stimulating business.
An L.A. City Council meeting scheduled for Tuesday was cancelled until further notice.
L.A. County had 669 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Tuesday, with 11 deaths. The state had 2,566 cases with 51 deaths.